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The Age

Foxtel handballs Comedy Channel to Melbourne

Date: 29/11/2006
Words: 254
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Business
Page: 3
FOXTEL has sent the Seven and Ten networks a clear signal it is finished with the AFL by renaming its Fox Footy Channel studios to Foxtel Studios Melbourne. And it is moving its popular Comedy Channel from Sydney to the former football channel's studios in Southbank.

Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams announced the decision yesterday - a week after talks between Foxtel, Seven and Ten collapsed over how much the subscription network would pay the free-to-air networks to broadcast AFL matches next season.

The free-to-air networks paid the AFL $780 million for the rights to broadcast football from 2007-11.

Foxtel offered $45 million a year to broadcast four games a week. Seven and Ten said Foxtel offered about $60 million a year to the previous AFL rights holder, Nine Network, but Mr Williams has often, and strongly, insisted his offer was less.

"Just because they say it was $60 million does not make it true," he said.

The Fox Footy Channel was closed at the end of this year's season and from early next year will house production facilities and staff for the Comedy Channel, which shows local programs such as Stand Up Australia and The Power of One, as well as overseas hits such as Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Comedy Channel staff working in Sydney will have to move to Melbourne.

The former head of Fox Footy and now head of the Comedy Channel, Sean Riley, said Foxtel Melbourne Studios would also extend its production of local drama, such as the new Showtime series Satisfaction that begins filming next January.

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